We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. Check us out on the Stitcher network, available on mobile phones, in-car dashboards and tablets worldwide. Just click below to start listening:
We open today’s show with the story of the madstone. Right up till the early years of the 20th century, a bite from a rabid animal could strike terror in the hearts of Appalachian residents. Rabies slowly destroys the nervous system. It finally attacks the spinal cord and its victim may froth at the mouth, scream and fight. Before Louis Pasteur developed a successful vaccination in 1885, death from rabies was a forgone conclusion, unless a madstone could be obtained.
We’ll pause in between things to catch up on a Calendar of Events in the region this week, with special attention paid to events that emphasize heritage and local color.
When North Georgia’s Tallulah Falls hydroelectric plant began generating electricity in 1913, it was among the first such plants in the United States. Georgia Railway and Power (which later became Georgia Power Company) built the Tallulah Falls plant to provide power for their streetcar system in Atlanta. So it is interesting to note that Rabun County’s first electrical power did not come from Georgia Power.
Tales have circulated for years, telling of counterfeiting operations somewhere in the Unakas – all the way from the Ephraim Place to the Beauty Spot, from the Loose Cove to Iron Mountain. Some of the stories tell of rich silver mines still there somewhere for the finding. Somewhere on the North Carolina side of the mountain, someone, someday will probably find a trove of counterfeit dollars – at least a peck or so, as the story goes.
St. Patrick’s Day is only a couple of weeks off, and one of the things you’ll always find plenty of at that celebration is shillelaghs. The shillelagh [siúil éille is an old Gaelic word meaning “oak club”] is a wooden cudgel associated with the Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow, Ireland, famous for its once massive stands of oaks.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at some classic winter folk medicine. Cold and flu season’s almost over. These days a quick trip down to the local Walmart will arm the grippe sufferer with every pharmaceutical weapon imaginable. But it wasn’t always that way. In this piece we’ll look at 15 traditional remedies for the sniffles.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian harmonica music by Nora Carpenter in a 1972 recording of Shortenin’ Bread.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.